On the morning of my birthday, my husband brought up the topic of wanting to have kids, and it threw me into a spiral.
He and I had been talking about having children in the future before (I don’t say starting a family on purpose because he and I are already a family.) And while it has always been a wish of his, I’ve been struggling to imagine being a mom for years.
I know that I can share my fears with him and take as much time as I need (and biology allows) until I’m ready. And I also can’t imagine my life without a child in the future.
But, sometimes, I get the feeling that I’ll never be ready.
I often hear stories about families who want to conceive and the painful process of going through disappointments and infertility treatments. I feel for them.
Lately, I’ve also been reading more and more stories from women who make the conscious choice of not having children and sharing their reasons with this world. I celebrate them.
Soon, thanks to the recent supreme court decision, we’ll hear countless stories about women who had to give birth and become mothers without wanting to.
But what I never hear or read about are the stories from women who want to have a kid but are struggling with the doubts and fears that they’re carrying.
Stories about women like me (and, perhaps, you).
Stories about those of us who are afraid of the hardships that come with becoming and being a parent.
My fears around conception, pregnancy, and motherhood are manifold and partly stem from my family’s physical and mental health history, and they fluctuate in intensity:
I’m scared that I may not be able to get pregnant, that I won’t be able to connect with my baby during my pregnancy, that I might miscarry (which is much more common than we think), that I may have a traumatic birth, that I’ll get postpartum depression, that I might lose myself and my identity in the process of perhaps the biggest change in my life, and that my partner and I will disconnect during this process.
Most of my friends are a bit older than me and already have either one, two, or three kids. I feel proud and grateful that they feel safe enough in our relationship to share the hardship and struggle they go through as parents.
But hearing about them partly took away the bliss of ignorance that I assume some parents benefit from, and it makes me worry about not having any time for myself, having to plan my whole life around another being, and potentially feeling resentful for it.
As a psychologist myself, I’m always trying to be conscious of my own mental health, and am now looking for support in my area.
While this helps calm my anxiety, I wish there were more people speaking about those fears.
Although I believe one can never be prepared for being a parent, I’m hoping that inquiring about my worries will help me go through this process with awareness.
And it reminds me of the concept of two truths that I often share with my clients:
Two seemingly opposite things can be true at the same time.
We can be scared of not being able to get pregnant and look forward to all the unprotected sex as we start trying.
We can be afraid of not being able to connect with our baby during pregnancy and be excited to witness what our amazing body is capable of.
We can be anxious about miscarriage and know that our bodies know what’s best.
We can be frightened about birth and thrilled about watching our bodies bring another being into this world.
We can be fearful about postpartum depression and look forward to having the time and space to retreat in our cave and disconnect from the outer world.
We can be worried about losing ourselves and our identity in the process of becoming a parent and be curious about getting to know this new side of ourselves.
We can be nervous about what this experience will do to our relationship with our partner and be excited about getting to know our lover and friend in this completely new role.
As my husband said so simply and beautifully today: “It’s normal to be afraid.”
It feels tender, vulnerable, even risky to share this intimate process with the world. Maybe that’s why nobody really talks about it. Perhaps, that means it’s even more important to do so.
A friend recently told me that she was anxious when she was pregnant for the first time but didn’t dare to share these fears with anyone.
As I ask myself how my words can be of benefit to others, I’m hoping that there may be someone out there who can relate to my worries and who will know that they’re not alone, even if their fears are different from mine.
If you’d like to share where you are on your own journey, please do so in the comments. And if you’d like to connect, feel free to write me a direct message here on Elephant.
I’m wishing you lots of love and kindness for yourself as you navigate through this process.